City inspection records show that Giuseppe Falcone, who was the owner of D&J Iron Works, signed an affidavit in Aug. 2004 saying that he had inspected the fire escape at 296 Beacon St. and that it conformed to state building codes.
Yet city records for that property also show that the 2004 inspection was the last one done despite the requirement that fire escapes be inspected every five years.
The apparent failure to inspect the fire escape in 2009 raises the question of whether the repair work being done in 2014 could have been avoided, according to Amy Cronin, president of Strategic Code Solutions and an expert on fire and building codes.
“We have to question, if it had been done in 2009, perhaps there may have been some damage (spotted). If you think about rust, if you catch it early enough before there’s massive damage, maybe the welding would have never been done,” Cronin said.
Authorities have said that welders doing repair work on a hand rail at 296 Beacon St. accidentally sparked the blaze next door at 298 Beacon St. That fire, fueled by a strong wind off the Charles River, claimed the lives of Boston Fire Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy.
“We do not believe the fire was intentionally set. Rather, evidence at this point suggests that the fire started as a result of sparks from repair work which included the installation of an iron handrail in the rear exterior of 296 Beacon St.,” Suffolk County prosecutor Edmond Zabin said during a March press conference.
Authorities also said the welders were working without the required permit, which in some circumstances requires a firefighter to be posted to watch over the welding.
FOX Undercover has already reported that investigators have already searched the office of D&J Iron Works in Malden. That company and Falcone are being sued for negligence by the owner of the building that burned.
Cronin said the 2004 affidavit signed by Falcone shows he had at least some familiarity with building codes.
“He knows his way around the building codes and fire code,” she said. “He should have known about the welding permit and the other welding requirements as well.”
Falcone, in a written response to the civil suit, denied doing the welding and said that D&J Iron Works disbanded as a corporation in 2010, and so could not have done the work. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment about the fire escape inspections.
A spokesperson for the owner of 296 Beacon St. declined to address the missing fire escape inspection. Asked whether work was being done on the fire escape this year, the spokesperson referred to an earlier statement saying “safety railings” were being installed.